Living to fight again.

Living to fight again.

On my last post, I showed what happens to one of my deer hair poppers after doing battle with over 2 dozen bass. Well, after cutting off all the deer hair with a razor blade, I retied the fly and had it ready to do battle again. See my last post 

It was kind of a slow morning at my favorite bass hangout but I was able to catch 14 on the same popper. Again I probably lost about 7 or 8 but that’s pretty good for a bunch of deer hair on a hook.

Warning! Graphic photo attached. Hide your wife. Hide your kids :)

Warning! Graphic photo attached. Hide your wife. Hide your kids :)

So here’s what happens to a deer hair popper (fire tiger) when you land 24 bass on it in one morning.

Pretty nasty, right?  I landed 24 bass on this one fly this morning and I missed another half dozen or so on it as well. In fact, early on, I had a big mama suck it down and she broke my tippet. I found the fly, intact, floating about 20 feet from where I lost her and I tied the popper back on. I kept count because I wanted to show just how durable these poppers are.

Not a bad fish story, right? But here’s where it gets interesting. I took the fly home, did some more trimming, added some more fabric mender glue, added eyes, and here’s what I got..

Not bad, if I must say so myself. All it took was about 3 minutes of work and I’ll have another popper ready to catch at least another dozen bass this week. Yes, I’m on Spring Break. 🙂  Let’s see you do that with a traditional popper. You’ll have to probably repaint the body, add eyes and epoxy the whole thing. Not that it can’t be done, but this took me all of three minutes to do.

Well, I said I caught 24 bass on that popper this morning. While, I won’t bore your with 24 pictures of bass, I will post a few here:

Most of them were in the 11-12 inch range, but I had about 6 that were 15 inches or larger. Most were caught on the Fire Tiger popper. I caught a few on a Tokyo Spider and a few on a shad baitfish fly. The good news is spring break has just begun. The bad news is, the wind will probably keep me from fishing my beloved South Louisiana marsh this week. Oh, well…there are plenty bass, bream, and sacalait that will want to play 🙂

 

How do I tie my deer hair bugs?

I have had several fly tiers in the fly fishing community ask me it I had a video demonstrating how I tie my bugs. Surprisingly, there are very few videos out there in the world wide web. I don’t know if it’s because it’s some sort of secret fraternity or what, but I’m going to give it a go. I really think the reason is it takes so long to tie one of these flies and no one wants to sit though a 45-50 minute how to video. So, I’ve decided to do mine in a series of videos. The first one is ready to view. It’s an introduction into tying and it asks, “Why would you want to tie these anyway?” It’s not an inexpensive hobby, it takes a lot of time, and it takes a certain level of skill that a novice fly tier shouldn’t attempt. I also go over my tools and I give links where some of these can be purchased.

Enjoy!

Doc

Got my mojo back

I know I haven’t posted here in a while and it’s really not that I haven’t been fishing, because I try to slip my kayak in my neighborhood lake at least once a week. I just haven’t had much to write about. I might catch one bass here or there…or IMG_0885.jpeg
one 10 inch bream (red-ear or called chinquapin down here)IMG_1067.jpeg
I even made a trip to one of my friend’s “old reliable” lakes to catch some bass on poppers but I lost three and only managed to land one healthy bass.

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Yesterday, we received word that in and attempt to stem the growing tide of the COVID-19 virus, we will be teaching school for the next few weeks online. In addition to that, I had to cancel our high school’s band trip to Disney World, and I had to move my band’s big fundraiser from March 29 to May. I had been in meetings with band parents, meetings with administrators at school, and I had been on the phone for hours with Disney, charter bus personnel, our hotel in Orlando, and God’s knows who else. Thank God my wife was able to purchase some toilet paper earlier in the week 🙂  To say it’s been a stressful week is an understatement. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a whiner (maybe a winer 🙂 ) and I know it’s been tough for a lot of people in the world. All I know is, I needed some time alone in a kayak with our Lord and a fly rod in my hand.

I loaded up my kayak in my truck and headed to my “old reliable” lake/pond again. After praying my Glorious Mysteries on the way there, I knew my mind was right and it was going to be a great morning. I think I caught my first bass on like my second cast. GOPR0349.jpeg
And then anotherGOPR0350.jpeg

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That was a terrific start. I caught about a half dozen on a Frog style deer hair popper before the fish had destroyed my fly.

GOPR0351.jpegI probably lost about twice as many before I tied on another popper with a different color combination to change things up. Again, I started missing fish and I began to wonder if my hook gap was wrong or something. I figured those bass were just a little bit small and then I got into an area where my hook ratio really picked up.
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Notice the algae in the background. It was a challenge to cast close to that and not get a big clump of salad every now and then.

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I kept a count of how many I caught (19). All were caught on poppers. At around 9:45 I started heading back to the truck but I was going to fish the bank on down toward where I had parked. I got to one little change in the algae line and right away I missed a fish. Two casts later…another miss! By now, I’m thinking I need to take lessons on hook setting or something….and that’s when I saw this big girl lift her head out the water to slurp my popper in. I let her go down with it a second before I strip set the hook hard in her mouth. By the way she was pulling, I knew she was the fish of the day. Of course, I started talking to her. “Don’t you dare jump!” “Don’t you dare spit my hook!” Every time she would rise to the top to jump, I would give her a little more line and I was able to keep the fish from jumping. After a few more minutes, I was able to lip this beautyIMG_1094.jpegIMG_1097.jpegGOPR0355.jpeg

I decided that after that fish, I had had enough for one morning. The owner of the property asked me to keep fish under 15 inches. I have a hard time keeping bass, especially during the spawn but I did keep a dozen under 14 inches to eat on a Lenten Friday soon. In fact, the way people have been clearing the shelves of food, water, toilet paper, etc. that may be the only meat I eat in a long time 🙂

So when I researched ways to avoid the Coronavirus, I keep seeing the phrase, “social distancing.” Well, I did some social distancing and I was able to get some fresh air, some fresh fish, some sun, and some stress relief. I think I’m good for a while. 🙂

 

 

 

Musicdoc’s Rules for sight-fishing with a fly rod for redfish in southeast Louisiana…from a kayak.

Musicdoc’s Rules for sight-fishing with a fly rod for redfish in southeast Louisiana…from a kayak.

 

  1. Rule # 1 is WIND. Check the wind BEFORE you head out. You want winds less than 10 mph. (I can fish the lee-side of a broken marsh once the wind picks up but a light chop on the water makes it nearly impossible to see the fish before they see you and spook. Not to mention what it does to your casting accuracy.
  2. Rule # 2 is SUNSHINE. Clouds create a glare that makes it nearly impossible to see the fish before they see you. Pick a sunny day.
  3. Rule #3 is WATER CLARITY. I need clear water, and preferably, shallow water. Dirty water makes things difficult. Fishermen have no way to predict water clarity.
  4. Rule #4 POLARIZED SUNGLASSES. Have a good pair of polarized sunglasses. I use Costa del Mars
  5. Rule #5. GEAR. Have the right gear. More on this at the end of this post.
  6. Rule #6 REDFISH RECOGNIZITION. Know what to look for. This is something that I’m still working on, but here are a few important pointers. Sometimes all I see is a dark shadow that looks out of place in the shallow flats. It looks like a mini submarine slowly cruising the shallows. Other times it the tell-tale swirl and splash that a feeding redfish makes when it’s chasing food. (I don’t get to see this that often these days) Sometimes it’s the tail of a ‘tailing’ red. Then sometimes it’s just tiny shrimp and baitfish leaping out of the water near a grass line. Sometimes it’s the pumpkin color you see (mostly in crystal clear water that has a lot of submerged grass).
  7. Rule #7 CASTING ACCURACY. This isn’t as crucial as if you’re casting to a carp, but it helps to cast about a foot in front of a moving redfish. Sometimes I cast a couple feet out in front and a foot or so further back, so the fish doesn’t spook. Slowly begin your strips when the fish gets closer.

Addendum #1 – Gear.

The ideal way to sight-fish is by standing so be sure when you purchase your kayak, you select one that is very stable. I fish out of a Jackson Cruise, for the stability, tracking, and it’s lightweight.

When I first started sight-fishing for redfish, I had trouble maneuvering my paddle and my fly rod. I would push through the marsh with the paddle and then clip it on my belt. Here’s a good post by a buddy of mine on how to make one of these: https://mountainstomarsh.com/2012/06/04/dawgknots-paddle-holster-belt/

When I would see a fish, I would clip the paddle on my belt, bend over and grab my fly rod, which was laying down on the floor of the kayak and by the time I looked back up, I had lost the fish. My solution was to purchase a fly rod holder or holster. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enmYw0PijDw

That was a game changer for me. Now, I could keep my eyes on the fish while I grabbed my fly rod. I started having more success but the real game changer for me came with the purchase of the Parknpole, by Yakattack : https://www.amazon.com/Yakattack-Parknpole-Stakeout-Push-Pole/dp/B009335UAU/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&gclid=Cj0KCQiAt_PuBRDcARIsAMNlBdqutoik1sINV_KEUomHw-O2BT10wKwSsaPXq4ZUkHds_WXEfZkMhM8aAipWEALw_wcB&hvadid=182518131977&hvdev=c&hvlocphy=9025395&hvnetw=g&hvpos=1t1&hvqmt=e&hvrand=13129700939419524766&hvtargid=aud-840076997981%3Akwd-69281524443&hydadcr=16032_9870530&keywords=parknpole&qid=1574814226&sr=8-1

Now, I just push-pole through the marsh and when I see a redfish, I grab my rod, which is holstered to my side and in a few seconds, I’m able to present my fly to and unexpecting redfish. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

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Addendum #2 I think my next purchase will be this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGHf6fZTvOA

I like my Smith Creek holster but I see so much potential in this and it’s the same price.

Sight-fishing for Louisiana marsh redfish!

Like my last blog entry said, “Fall is my favorite time” to get to the marsh to do some sight-fishing for redfish. I often get asked how does one “sight-fish” for reds. I made a solo trip this morning (one of my favorite big-league ball players stood me up late last night) to Grand Isle to do some sight fishing for Louisiana redfish. Here are some of the prerequisites for sight-fishing:

  1. I fish out of a Jackson kayak so first of all I need winds no greater than 10 mph. (This morning’s forecast was 3-8 mph until 10 o’clock.) I can fish the lee-side of a broken marsh once the wind picks up but a light chop on the water makes it nearly impossible to see the fish before they see you and spook.
  2. I need full sun most of the morning. Clouds create a glare that makes it nearly impossible to see the fish before they see you. I had full sun nearly all morning.
  3. I need clear water, and preferably, shallow water. Dirty water makes things difficult. The day started out with clear water of about 16-18 inches of visibility. It did dirty up to about 10 inches when the tide started back up.
  4. I need a good pair of polarized sunglasses. I use Costa del Mars
  5. I need some luck and nerves of steel…really…you’ve heard of buck fever? Well can you imagine a pod of four to six redfish swimming toward you? Good thing I don’t have heart trouble 🙂 I have found myself visibly shaking at times.
  6. I need to know what to look for. This is something that I’m still working on, but here are a few important pointers. Sometimes all I see is a dark shadow that looks out of place in the shallow flats. It looks like a mini submarine slowly cruising the shallows. Other times it the tell-tale swirl and splash that a feeding redfish makes when it’s chasing food. (I don’t get to see this that often these days) Sometimes it’s the tail of a ‘tailing’ red. Then sometimes it’s just tiny shrimp and baitfish leaping out of the water near a grass line. I also located a few today just by the blue of their tails in the water. Sometimes it’s the pumpkin color you see (mostly in crystal clear water that has a lot of submerged grass).
  7. It always helps to cast about a foot in front of a moving redfish but they have a knack of turning right when I cast. Sometimes I cast a couple feed out in front of them so I don’t spook them and begin a slow retrieve when they get closer.

This morning’s trip down Highway 1 took me to my favorite water for this time of year. The tide was low, the water was clear, and the wind was a non factor until around 10 AM. Right away, I had two fish chase down my crab fly and I missed the hook set. I thought to myself “this is going to be one of THOSE days.” I got my composure and I just stuck my push-pole in the water so I could check out a feeding raccoon nearby. (sorry, I wasn’t able to get pictures). That’s when I spotted four redfish cruising within 15 feet of my kayak. I made the mistake that duck hunters make when a flock of a dozen or so teal buzz their blind. I cast to the middle of the pod, which spooked them…well all except the lone straggler which couldn’t resist my crab fly imitation. Bam, hook set and I was off on a sleigh ride. GOPR0316.jpeg
This was a perfect little eating sized fish so it went in my ice chest.

I spent the next half hour or so chasing down fish but I wasn’t having any luck. They either would not eat or I would spook them. Finally, I connected with redfish number 2.

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I did some experimenting with camera angles. This kept up for a while.GOPR0322.jpgGOPR0324.jpegGOPR0328.jpg
I was only going to keep three of the smaller fish (my self imposed limit) so I began releasing the big ones. A few of those would have been good tournament-sized fish.

By 1 PM the wind had picked up a little but the water had come up and it was dirty. A redfish was going to really have to make a big mistake for me to see it now. I did manage this leopard red (it had five spots on each side)GOPR0334.jpg

I had one break off my crab fly so I decided to tie on a “purple assault.” I caught several on that fly including the big girl of the day at over 28 inches. GOPR0337.jpg

The only fly I used that didn’t land a fish was my spoon-fly. When the water clarity got poor, I switched over to the spoon. I got a couple of eats and had both redfish break me off. Oh, well…

When I got home, my wife asked how my day went. I told her it was great. I caught 8. Of course, she commented “only 8?” Yes, dear. Eight redfish over 22 inches each and all caught on flies I tie myself is a good day! Not quite epic, but it certainly was awesome.